Tomás Saraceno, On Space Time Foam, 2012, installation

Tomás Saraceno, On Space Time Foam, 2012, installation

Curated by Andrea Lissoni On Space Time Foam is the work created by Tomás Saraceno for the “Cubo” at Hangar Bicocca, which, for the occasion, has become the ideal habitat for an unprecedented experiment in art installations, a utopian idea that takes form thanks to the convergence of highly specialized technical and engineering know-how.

It is an installation that incorporates the space for which it was designed, altering its form and function: a work that is fully realized only upon activating the dual opportunity of being observed from below and accessed from above.
It’s a floating structure composed of three levels of clear film that can be accessed by the public, inspired by the cubical configuration of the exhibition space. The work, whose development took months of planning and experimentation with a multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers, will then continue as an important project during a residency of the artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT in Cambridge (MA).
The starting point and image/symbol of the project is the drawing of the physicist Paul Davies, which conveys the central idea underlying On Space Time Foam: the coexistence and mutual dependence of people above and below the membranes, as their movements, breathing and actions influence each other and the surrounding space. With each movement of air – the opening of a door, a visitor moving about, the breath of just one individual – the installation changes form as if it were a living organism.

At first glance, the work seems to be composed of three clear PVC membranes suspended at a height of 24 metres, which visitors can access to observe the space below. Just a second later, however, visitors realize that the work is constituted chiefly by what they cannot see. As the artist himself states, “This is a sculpture made of 7,000 cubic metres of air in which you are literally sustained by air.” The visitor may not realize it, but the entire “Cubo” is subjected to pressure that allows the membranes to be inflated by hot air, according to a fundamental process
that brings the work to life.

Moreover, On Space Time Foam has been inspired by the theories of quantum physics, according to which the fundamental layer of existence, the conformation of the universe on the smallest scale, defined “Planck scale”, is structured like a foam. The very title of the work encompasses these three dimensions, “Space-Time-Foam”, announcing a place in which space and time change coordinates, as is the case in Cosmic Foam, which cannot be conceived in the physical parameters to which we are accustomed. “Quantum foam” is a concept of quantum mechanics, a description of subatomic time-space, about which we can only speculate today: On Space Time
Foam explores and symbolizes these infinite possibilities, serving as a metaphor.
Lastly, Saraceno suggests several images that can serve as keys to interpreting the work, including that of the drumhead on which everything reverberates and that of the “Cubo” as an immense musical instrument that vibrates with the passage of air.

On Space Time Foam is a very particular, unusual and suggestive work of art. It can be considered as an experiment that nevertheless requires the willingness to interact, individual and collective sense of responsibility and special behavioral conditions.


Tomás Saraceno | On Space Time Foam
26 Oct. 2012 – 03 Feb. 2013
Hangar Bicocca | Milan | Italy
ph. 02 6611 1573 |

Tomás Saraceno (b. San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, 1973) is an artist and architect internationally known for his visionary and surprising installations accessible to the public and able to modify the perception of architectural spaces. His oeuvre, inspired by the tradition of 20th-century utopian architecture, stems from the desire to create aerial structures that can be inhabited by people, are self-sufficient and have a low environmental impact.
Saraceno, who refers to himself as “living and working between and beyond planet Earth”, bases his work on themes such as the elimination of geographical, physical, behavioural and social barriers; the research into sustainable ways of life for humanity and the planet; the encounter and exchange among different disciplines and bodies of knowledge; the model of networking and sharing applied to all phases of the invention and execution of works and projects.